Fact or Fiction: The Heat will finish with the East's top seed.
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com:
Fact. The second half of the season will be neither a coronation nor a cakewalk. Based on schedule and margin of victory, Hollinger's Playoff Odds picks the Heat as the most likely team to win the conference, and that thing can't see that the Heat have, at times, looked like a team that's coasting. Also, research shows past title winners are better at "turning it on."
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog:
Fact. The Knicks look like a bunch of zombies defensively, the Pacers would punt on offense if it was allowed, the Nets need a version of Deron Williams that doesn't exist, the Celtics need a time machine for Paul Pierce, the Hawks need shock therapy to stop Josh Smith from shooting jumpers and Chicago still needs Derrick Rose. The Heat win by default.
Ian Levy, The Two Man Game:
Fact. Recent swoon aside, the Heat are still firmly the best team in the East. They've lost twice to New York but boast a more efficient offense, paired with a stingier defense. Chicago is currently predicted to finish eighth, but a healthy Derrick Rose could change that. Avoiding him in the first round should keep the Heat interested.
Rashad Mobley, Truth About It:
Fact. The current standings show the Knicks -- who are 2-0 against the Heat this season -- are just one game back of the Heat, and the Danny Granger-less Pacers are just two and a half games back. But there is no way the Heat relinquish home court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, which would mean possibly facing the Pacers or the Knicks in a Game 7 on the road.
Tom Sunnergren, Philadunkia:
Fact. David Foster Wallace once wrote that the most interesting aspect of a peak-level Pete Sampras tennis match was the way he, in the early rounds of a big tournament, slowly calibrated his game so he exerted the least possible amount of effort that still guaranteed victory. The Heat are calibrating.